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Think Out Loud

Reforming Catholicism

Pete Springer/OPB

You may have head the term “cafeteria Catholics” — those who choose what they like about Catholicism and leave the rest — but did you know there’s a movement within the Catholic church to actually change church theology? Instead of just focusing on the elements of the Catholicism that suit them, members of the Call to Action movement seek to change what they don’t like about their chosen faith.

Suzanne Thiel is one of the Catholics who wants to bring women into the priesthood. She considers herself a Catholic priest, having been ordained by a bishop. To say that she and others have been met with resistance is putting it mildly. The Vatican so disapproves of the movement that it issued a decree automatically excommunicating anyone who ordains a woman or any woman who is ordained.

Thiel says she believes that the church is the people, not the hierarchy. She says lots of Catholics don’t believe in the church theology around issues like sexuality or birth control. Thiel says she and other women in the church, like the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (the group representing many of the nuns in the U.S.) are working to bring the Catholic doctrine closer to what many of its practitioners believe.

Are you Catholic? Do your beliefs about gender, birth control, homosexuality or other social issues differ with official church doctrine? How do you resolve or live with that tension? What would you like to ask a woman priest who was ordained but officially excommunicated by Vatican decree?

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